February 27, 2004
British scientists have discovered that it is enzymes and not antioxidants that are the active factor, when white blood cells attack bacteria.
Free radicals are aggressive molecules that are capable of destroying the structure of other molecules. For example, the body uses free radicals to cut large molecules into pieces and build complex protein structures. So far so good.
But an abundance of free radicals has been shown to be able to damage the body due to the deterioration (oxidation) of certain molecules, such as LDL cholesterol, which then becomes dangerous because it causes arteriosclerosis in its rancid (oxidized) form.
In order to slow down this harmful oxidation, we form the so-called antioxidants. These are also found in our diet and in several dietary supplements. For example, vitamins C and E are such antioxidants.
However, a British research team has investigated the reactions that occur in the white blood cells when these attack bacteria. And they found that free radicals did not play a role, but rather that it was enzymes that the white blood cells use to attack and destroy bacteria.
Until now, it has been believed that the white blood cells used free radicals, and therefore people have been reluctant to use excessive doses of antioxidants, because it was believed that this would neutralize the white blood cells’ free radicals, so that they could not fight bacteria.
The new theory may explain why even large doses of antioxidants have not shown an inhibitory effect on the antibacterial effect of the white blood cells.
A large number of questions now remain, including the scientifically documented inhibitory effect on the occurrence of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
There is no doubt that there will be renewed debate about this every time we see new research in this very exciting area. – Also because opinions are divided. But one thing is theory, another is practice.
We must remember that the knowledge of medical science today is wrong. All the history of science has taught us that. In 100 years, our current theories will be replaced by new ones, and people will smile at the official knowledge of today.
We must therefore be careful, and above all let ourselves be guided by the large clinical studies. The theories must then try to explain these results.
By: Vitality Council
Nature, vol 427;6977:853.